News 2014

Title: Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championship
Type: Competition climbing
Date: 17/11/2014
System Date: 17/11/2014

WOW. The standard of climbing at the 2014 Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championship left many spectators with a look of amazement and admiration on their faces. The competitors who ranged in age from 11 to 19 represented some of the very best young climbers from all over the island of Ireland as well as a very strong contingent of climbers who travelled from Scotland, England and Wales. The competition which is in its second year as a stand-alone competition succeeded in drawing 51 climbers across seven separate competition categories.

The route setting team of Rob Napier, Brian Hall and Juan O Raw, measured the ability of the competitors really well and conceived a host of fun, absorbing and challenging routes. Each competitor climbs two qualification routes in the morning. The top ranked climbers from each of the competition categories then proceed to the final round in the afternoon.

As the climbers made their way through the two qualification routes the on-form climbers began to distinguish themselves from the crowd. The qualification climbs were set on the technical overhang of the ‘North-Face’ wall and the energy sapping steepness of the ‘Prow’. The route-setters skills were evident as at the end of the two qualification routes all the climbers’ skills were well tested and the vast majority of the field was split on points.

When the results for the qualification round were posted and the finalists revealed there were some delighted and well as some very disappointed competitors, the margins were so narrow that the slightest slip a second earlier or later decided who progressed through to the next round and who had to watch on from the bleachers.

With the qualification routes dispensed with the route-setters began resetting some of the routes for the final round. The climbers who qualify for the final round must wait in the isolation room while this work is taking place on their final route, this really adds to the suspense for the final. Each group is called from the isolation room and given six minutes to view the route and to try to figure out how to climb it before going back into isolation.

The first group of finalists were the climbers in Male Youth C and Female Youth C. In Male Youth C Sam Bullock from Newcastle showed tremendous climbing skill and fitness to reach the top of his final route, the only climber in his category to do so, much to the delight of his parents (and the route setters). In Female Youth C Cardiff’s Emily Philips and Sheffield’s Pippa Watkin were set for an epic showdown. Both climbers reached the top of their two qualifiers. Emily reached the top of the final climb with apparent ease. If Pippa reached the top it would come down to who climbed the quickest on the final route. Despite an amazing display of climbing ability Pippa fell just shy of the top. The gold medal went to Emily.

In Female Youth B Cork’s Sarah Hoare continued her strong run of form to take second place ahead of a group of strong climbers. It was however Scottish climber Rebecca Kinghorn who proved herself to be a class apart from the rest topping her final route and in the process giving one of the route-setters a lesson in what strong young climbers can hold on to! In Male B Ballywalter’s Carson Carnduff and Kieran Forrest  from North Wales were tied in joint 1st after the qualifiers. In the final round Carson climbed smoothly and confidently through the steepest section of the Awesome Walls Dublin prow only to come unstuck high on the wall. Lowering to the ground he was in poll position with only Kieran left to climb. Kieran matched the previous high point and then seemed to hit the turbo button to power to the top of the wall.

In Male Youth A Dominic Burns of Belfast  was dominant throughout the competition with only the final route denying him three ‘tops’. The battle for 2nd and 3rd place between Sean Hoare, David Hurley and Adam Timmons was a closer run affair with 2nd going to Sean and 3rd to David. In Female Youth A Victoria Waterson of Fermanagh found herself the sole competitor in the group. Despite the lack of any real competition Victoria pushed herself as hard as she could throughout the day. This sporting spirit really embodies what these competitions are about. They are not about beating the other climbers, they are about climbing as hard as you can, or if you are a bit more cynical they are about trying to beat the route-setters!

The last final round of the day was for the Junior Male category. The podium places were up for grabs between Belfast’s Eoin Acton, Dave Cussen from Cork and Dublin climber Ciaran Scanlon. In a very close final Eoin showed his competition experience and guile to take first from Dave, with Ciaran taking 3rd place.

In only its second year the Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championship has already established itself as a key climbing competition for young climbers. The visiting climbers vowed to be back in 2015 and hopefully we will see even more of them as well as more climbers from all over Ireland.

The competition could not have been the success it was without the massive support from all the people who volunteered their time for the day to belay, judge, operate the jury video cameras, calculate results, register the climbers and supervise the isolation room. Awesome Walls Dublin has been fantastic host to this competition since its inception. The continued support of Great Outdoors through the sponsorship of prizes for the competition really adds to the value of the day. The rush to the shop after the prize was evidence enough of the competitors delight in the prizes. 

Full results are available at: Results 2014 Junior Irish Lead Climbing Championship